Why Do We Love Jeff McNeil?

The Hot Stove in Flushing is finally starting to bubble with some significance as reports from SNY’s Andy Martino and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) state that former Mets player and current Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is talking with current Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen (BVW) about bringing Robinson Cano back to New York City.

The slugging second baseman is still owed $120 million over the next five year, a deal that BVW inked himself when still serving as a player agent. But I’m certain I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

With just little movement happening, especially dealing with the boys in Blue and Orange, I know I am grasping at anything to help feed the fix for more cowbell, I mean baseball, until pitchers and catchers…

If Seattle eats $10 million annually and the Mets suddenly get a left-handed power bat who hits .300 for just $14 million a year, I’m slightly confused why Mets fans would be upset with this. I agree with MetsMerized’s John Edwards’ take that the move could be an imperfect match, especially when I remember the 26-year old rookie that made the final months of last season fun.

Wearing an offensive lineman’s number, I had never heard of Jeff McNeil until he was in the starting lineup. Then, like every Met fan, I wondered where he had been all season, why he didn’t start every day and when was the league going to catch up to essentially a left-handed slap-gap hitter.

Answering my questions in order:

A golfer who disappointed enough in the 2009 U.S. Junior Amateur Golf Championship shifted his focus to baseball and translated the necessary hand-eye coordination from the links to the diamond, earning a college scholarship offer off just one good game in front of the right scout.

Yes, the team went 36-28 once McNeil was in Queens. Yes, he seems perfect at the top or bottom of the lineup; either helping to set the table or making sure to clear the pitcher’s spot in the order. Yes, he’s a cost-effective option who’s not arbitration eligible until 2022…

But this isn’t about McNeil, is it?

This is about another left-handed infielder who singled in his first major league at-bat. Another guy whose defensive abilities were questioned, but his ability at the plate kept him on the field.

Or is it about a right-handed utility player whose major league debut came pinch hitting for Melvin Mora in 2009 and owner of the Mets rookie record for most consecutive games with an RBI.

Are we afraid that McNeil can become the next Daniel Murphy or Justin Turner; showing flashes of success in a Mets uniform, only to be moved elsewhere before realizing his true greatness?

Thanks for reading.

About Martin Kester 35 Articles
Since hanging from a street sign to watch the 1986 ticker tape parade, I've enjoyed the Mets from a distance. Growing up, they were across the GW with Bob Murphy's voice bringing them close. I'm in enemy territory in Atlanta, but now I'm protected by Norman Seebrook and Howie Rose.